Roleplaying Games

Dallas Games Marathon and Gamer Guilds

by on Apr.22, 2011, under Articles, Board Games, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

I recently attended the Dallas Games Marathon this past weekend. The marathon runs from Friday to Sunday, although I only attended Saturday. It takes place monthly in Dallas at a storefront location that looks like it was converted from a dance studio.

The day I attended was fun. Although I only knew one person there, I met several very nice people and played several different games. Towards the end of the day I participated in a Thunderstone tournament in which I placed fifth. My one issue was that in lacking anyone I knew, I didn’t have a good manner in which to go find food and not being from the area, I didn’t want to simply wander around. Luckily I had brought some snacks for myself, and there were some treats for sale cheaply at registration.

The game selection at DGM is more than adequate with their own library plus the boxes of games actual attendees bring. The space is enough to run many board games. I kept likening the entire thing to attending a scaled down board game geek con.

Overall it made me wonder why such a thing hasn’t popped up in other cities prior. A group forming to rent out a commercial space for the use of gaming on a regular basis. I’m sure it is somewhat expensive depending on the rental prices but it seems like forming a gaming guild and renting a space for local games to come and play, for a modest fee that helps cover cost, would be an incredibly useful service. A once a month marathon or so, and then space that could be rented out for groups who want a non-living room space to do stuff in on a regular basis. I wonder how feasible of an idea this is somewhere other than in Dallas.

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Comic Links: Yuko Ota, Natasha Allegri

by on Mar.01, 2011, under Comic Links, Comics, Entertainment, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

Some comics I found on a few tumblr sites.

Yuko Ota: Fiend Folio

I like the hell cat and the snail flail.

Natasha Allegri: why my teeth are gonna rot out of my head

Aww. Pancake is amusing.

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New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Relief

by on Feb.25, 2011, under Announcements, Articles, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

New Zealand was hit by a massive earthquake on Tuesday. So far the number of casualties is confirmed at 113. New Zealand has been a great international neighbor in the past when it comes to disasters across the world and it’s time we give them something back in their time of need.

DriveThruRPG is once again offering a PDF bundle of various RPG books in which all proceeds go to the Red Cross specifically for New Zealand earthquake relief.

The bundle includes several top titles including CthulhutTech, Supernatural RPG, and Scion: Hero, along with many other indie games and gaming accessories for systems like Icons, Pathfinder, and more.

It’s a great way to give and receive, and you’ll be joining others in creating a legacy of gamers giving to the world. Past relief bundles to Haiti and Pakistan were extremely successful and this one deserves no less.

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Eclipse Phase: Post Human Studios 2010 report

by on Feb.22, 2011, under Articles, Entertainment, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

Looking back through the posts, I realize that I actually have not introduced Eclipse Phase to my readers. For some reason when I was importing posts from my old live journal, my Eclipse Phase posts did not make it.

So let introduce to you Eclipse Phase.

Death is a disease... cure it.Eclipse phase is a post-apocalyptic transhuman conspiracy and horror role playing game  produced by Post Human Studios. Players take part in a cross-faction secret network dubbed Firewall that is dedicated to counteracting “existential risks” — threats to the existence of transhumanity, whether they be biowar plagues, self-replicating nanoswarms, nuclear proliferation, terrorists with WMDs, net-breaking computer attacks, rogue AIs, alien encounters, or anything else that could drive an already decimated transhumanity to extinction.

The setting is complex far future post-singularity where earth has been abandoned due to a war with sentient AI known as TITANs. A war transhumanity did not win. The majority of the people in existence are uploads, people who downloaded into the vast inter-solar web to escape the horrors of a dying world. The solar system is a most in hospitable place, and humanity was still in its first steps of colonizing it when the machines attacked.

Most of this information is available via Eclipse Phase’s website: Their resource page is full of interesting free downloads including quick-start rules and sample characters.

What makes Eclipse Phase rather unique, at least when it was first released, was that it was released under a Creative Commons License: BY-NC-SA

Creative Commons LicenseWhat this means is that you are free to copy, share, and remix the text and artwork within the Eclipse Phase books and PDFs (with some exceptions noted on their website) under the following conditions:

1) You do so only for noncommercial purposes;
2) You attribute Posthuman Studios (see below);
3) You license any derivatives under the same license.

That means that I can actually, legally, offer to send to you a copy of the PDFs I purchased. Which I will, if you ask. You can email me at NojhLivic [at] TheSingularityBlog (dot) Net and I will setup a download link for you to get a full copy of the base rules. Or you can simply purchase them for $15 bucks and support a great game! I also wouldn’t hold it against you to download a copy, figure out how awesome it is, and then go purchase it.

Eclipse phase currently has three books in print, and game master screen which is actually in limited print right now. All of these items are available for download slightly cheaper via PDF, and some of them even come with “Hack Packs” including the original design files needed for you to remix it up.

So with the whole “giving the game away for free” stuff, how did well did Eclipse Phase do?

If you believe the creators, very well: Posthuman 2010 Year End Review. They sold books and PDFs in the thousands. Kept themselves afloat financially despite having to change distributors. They’re proud that the main book was downloaded over 14,000 times on a single tracker from Demonoid.

In fact Eclipse Phase won several awards including the Origins award for Best Roleplaying Game and took away three Ennies including gold for best writing.

The only real sad part is that I still haven’t managed to play a single game of it, despite having read the main book and half of the fiction. I have high hopes that I’ll be able to attend a convention running a game, sometime.

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Game Design, Writing, & Videos: Extra Credits

by on Feb.14, 2011, under Articles, Board Games, Entertainment, Gaming, Roleplaying Games, Video Games, Videos, Visual Media, Writing

So last time I posted an Extra Credits video, I explained how some of the skills talked about are applicable across not just video games but other creative fields like writing. The video below is the second part of that series and while it’s advice this time doesn’t apply to writing nearly as much, it does apply to a broad range of interactive game design, not just video game design.

The first advice is applicable to any creative art. No matter what your muse may be telling you, you can’t create in a vacuum. One of the most important parts of being a writer, game design, artist, etc, is sampling the medium you’re trying to create. Fiction writers should read fiction. RPG designers should play D&D, DFRPG, and other RPGs. Artists should spend hours wandering through Deviant Art or their local museums, etc. I feel the last section of the video, playing to learn, ties into this well. Use the observation skills from the last video while you take in other’s ideas.

Also when making any kind of game be it board, rp, video, etc, the F.O.O. strategies are still things you have to look for as well. Does the game break if I spend all my experience on strength and avoid the other scores? If I’m allowed to play two action cards a turn, will that let me get another card that will let me play an unlimited amount of action cards? Etc.

Break Points applies to not only games, but can also apply to writing. You have two major possible break points in a story, your narrative flow, and your world description. The first is obvious to most writers because, well, the story is what you’re writing. Forgetting that a character died three books ago and writing them into your newest book is something you generally don’t worry about… too much.

World description is a bit more insidious, especially for fantasy. Does it make sense to have large-scale ground wars in worlds where there are airships? How do small generic villages support themselves if there are huge wandering monsters between them and the places where they would trade their exports?

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Vampire: The Masquerade turns 20 soon

by on Jan.28, 2011, under Articles, Entertainment, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

First edition Vampire: The Masquerade, probably the first real tabletop RPG I played, will be turning 20 years old sometime this year. I stumbled on this blog post of Justin Achilli, a White Wolf Publishing employee, who went and took pictures of the original marble slab used to create the 1st edition cover of Vampire: TM. Check it out:

You can find more about the cover and whatnot (as well as more pictures) at Justin’s blog.

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Fate & Dresden Files RPG, Part 3 – My Wizard’s Concept

by on Jan.25, 2011, under Articles, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

So last time I talked about the Aspect system of DFRPG and I talked about a character whose concept was “Man of Many Faces”. This time I’m going to turn things around and talk about another character I’ve made. My Wizard.

My apologies since I promised last time I’d talk about the Man of Many Faces, but as it turns out, the tabletop game I am playing in wanted to meet again sooner than expected and I finished my Wizard before I finished the Man of Many Faces.

Click here if you would like to download the character sheet of the character I am about to discuss.

So meet Jesse Warner. I had a hard time making up this character. I knew I wanted to make a Wizard but playing a wizard has a serious mental dichotomy with me, namely that Wizards can’t use technology. In a fantasy setting, this is fine because there is no technology. But the Dresden Files RPG is based in the modern-day. So what kind of profession can a Wizard have in the modern-day that doesn’t at least require cursory use of computers and cellphones? Since I am a software developer and I am surrounded by technology all day long, thinking up solutions to such an issue was difficult for me.

This is an issue because of the High Concept aspect that needs to be created for a character. A wizard needs the word ‘Wizard’ (or something that implies Wizard) in their high concept, but you should always strive to make it more interesting. Add a job, or a characteristic of some kind that sets your character apart from others of its type.

Jesse is a Wizard in the year 2011 in the city of San Antonio. I didn’t want to create a character that was a complete copy of Harry Dresden, the main wizard character from the novels, but during our city creation we had made it slightly clear that the campaign we would be playing in would be mystery/action. So a Wizard Private Eye not so much but what else could a Wizard be in San Antonio? Talking it over with my game master, I learned that he had envisioned San Antonio to still be a kind of wild place in regards to the supernatural, that the wizards of the White Council hadn’t actively had a presence in the city since it grew up so fast. A kind of “Frontier City”.
(continue reading…)

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Fate & Dresden Files RPG, Part 2 – Aspects

by on Jan.10, 2011, under Articles, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

So last time I talked about the Dresden Files RPG and how it was based upon the Fate RPG system. I mentioned that characters have aspects which are defined during character generation based upon several descriptions about the character, namely their High Concept, their Trouble, their background, and stories that involve the other characters of the group.

I also defined two aspects based upon a character I’ve been making for a one shot Dresden Files game I’ve been invited to play in. His high concept is “Man of Many Faces” and his trouble is “Impulsive Investigator”.

So this time I’ll discuss how Dresden Files RPG and Fate use Aspects in the game in order to promote storytelling and narrative play. Fate Points are what power Aspects, and Aspects are what let your character shine at being who they are. In the fate system You spend a Fate point to invoke an aspect in order to gain some kind of a bonus, if the aspect is in some way in line with the action your character is taking. For example if my character is attempting to allude someone chasing him and he uses his power to look like someone else, I can spend a fate point and use my Man of Many Faces aspect to gain a bonus to the roll needed to stay calm and appear that I’m not the person my pursuers are running after. Alternatively my character has broken into someone’s house and is now looking for a key piece of information but I have limited amount of time. I can spend my fate point to invoke my Impulsive Investigator aspect in order reduce the amount of time it takes for me to find what I am looking for, since my character is used to investigating everything and knows all the good hiding spots in an area.

But while getting static bonuses because of aspects are cool, it is not the key mechanics which promote interesting storytelling. The key mechanics are the invoking for effect and compel systems.

(continue reading…)

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Fate & Dresden Files RPG, Part 1 – Intro

by on Jan.07, 2011, under Articles, Gaming, Roleplaying Games

So I talked a little bit about roleplaying games in my last post which you can find here. I briefly talked about what they are, what I’ve been playing, what I’ve wanted to play, and why it’s been hard to play what I want to play.

One game that I’ve been wainting to play is the Dresden Files RPG.

Fuego!The Dresden Files RPG is based off a series of books known as The Dresden Files (a shocker I know) by Jim Butcher. It is produced by Evil Hat Productions. If you’ve never heard of The Dresden Files or have but haven’t gotten around to reading the books, let me highly and emphatically suggest them right now. They are an excellent read and by the fourth book you will most certainty be hooked. Let me warn some of the books can easily robe entires nights of sleep from you by their sheer awesomeness.

But I want to talk about The Dresden Files RPG, not the series.

The Dresden Files RPG is based off a roleplaying game system called Fate. Fate is a free RPG system, meaning that you can use it, download it, print it, as much as you like because it is released under the Open Gaming License, which is like the Creative Commons License but for games. The Fate used in Dresden Files is actually one of the first versions of the 3rd edition of the Fate system, modified slightly to better create Dresden Files like stories.

As soon as I started reading about the Fate system I found it an incredibly interesting from a mechanics standpoint. Roleplaying games grew out of miniature war games and as such, tend to have a focus on being a simulation of real life (even if real life in this case contains fantastical elements such as magic spells and dragons), and have a focus on combat. There are exceptions but even those exceptions have mathematical rules which are not very supportive in terms of story creation.

(continue reading…)

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My roleplaying games

by on Jan.06, 2011, under Articles, Gaming, Reviews, Roleplaying Games

I’ve been playing roleplaying games (RPGs) for more than half my life. Primarily tabletop roleplaying games, followed by online RPGs, and even snuck in a little live action roleplaying. I don’t categorize most video games which typically fall under the moniker roleplaying as roleplaying games.

For the uninitiated, roleplaying games are cooperative storytelling games. You play with them multiple people in an attempt to create some kind of story, usually by making up and then acting out some sort of character. The most popular RPG known in this day and age is Dungeons and Dragons, but there are many other games such as Vanished Lands, the World of Darkness games, Pathfinder, Exalted, Shadowrun, Eclipse Phase, CthulhuTech, and Dresden Files. Each of these games presents rules on how to play the game fairly and create certain types of stories.

I’ve been playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons over the last year. Two of the latest edition (4th edition) and one of the prior edition (3.5). And while I still enjoy these games, I’ve been itching to try something new. One of the problems with roleplaying games is that it requires a significant time investment (anywhere from 8 hours a month to 3-4 hours a week) and that most standard types of RPGs require someone to play a Game Master (GM) position. The Game Master typically does a lot of the “work” necessary to help keep the game running and while it can be a fulfilling position, it requires even more of a time investment and there are less people willing to GM than to be a player, where you only have to worry about your own character, for the most part.

(continue reading…)

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